Sunday, February 6, 2011

Obedience as the Pathway to Understanding Theology

I was reading Andy Naselli's blog on why John Piper does not own a T.V. and found this snippet mixed in:

John Piper, “By This Time You Ought to be Teachers,” September 29, 1996:
The startling truth is that, if you stumble over Melchizedek, it may be because you watch questionable TV programs. If you stumble over the doctrine of election, it may be because you still use some shady business practices. If you stumble over the God-centered work of Christ in the cross, it may be because you love money and spend too much and give too little. The pathway to maturity and to solid Biblical food is not first becoming an intelligent person, but becoming an obedient person. What you do with alcohol and sex and money and leisure and food and computer have more to do with your capacity for solid food than with where you go to school or what books you read.
 I read something similar in Bruce Waltke's "An Old Testament Theology".  He distinguishes between the Greek concept of theology as an I/it relationship and the Hebrew concept of "the knowledge of the LORD" as an I/Thou relationship.  Because I am in an I/Thou relationship with God the truth I know about him is in connection to my devotion and obedience to him (my right relationship to a holy God).  As in any personal relationship, what I know about God affects my thoughts and actions toward him and reciprocally, my understanding of his thoughts and actions toward me.  A fuller illumination/revelation of his glory demands that I behold and reflect that in my life since I was made in his image to reflect him. In the grandeur of his wisdom he displays his  glorious grace in his love toward us in Christ and simultaneously this love, glory, and grace works out for our good as his creatures--the knowledge of Christ becomes our all-satisfying joy (which by the way brings God glory).

In other words, our knowledge of God is inextricably connected to ethics.  If there is sin or idolatry in our lives it will blind us from knowledge of the true God because we are wholistic persons whose hearts and intellects are connected.  We disbelieve on purpose and deny the knowledge of the holy by way of human reason or outright rejection of the truth.  We exchange the truth about God for a lie (Rom. 1:25).   The real irony is that sin and idolatry blinds us to grace and its healing balm.  It may even distort our view of grace leading to further downward spiraling.  This is why we need to be constantly be bombarded with the gospel.  It is the gospel that unmasks our idolatry and motivates us to joyfully obey the merciful King and Redeemer of captive sinners.  This obedience can then become the upward spiral of sanctification that lead to a fuller revelation of the knowledge of Christ in our lives and in our churches.

1 comment:

  1. Sin in our lives, very fitting. To be more like Christ and less like self.